At lunchtime on Thursday 22 October, Rishi Sunak announced a very welcome set of improvements to the Job Support Scheme (JSS), the successor to the Job Retention Scheme that’s been so important in helping our sector through the worst of the pandemic
With local lockdowns, it’s clear that measures to control the spread of the virus will prevent demand recovering as quickly as we’d like, and we felt that while the original JSS was a step in the right direction in providing ongoing support, it was nowhere near sufficient to help the sector.
BOSS has fed that back into government, making it clear that the original JSS as presented was not having any impact in reducing the likelihood of job losses. Under the original JSS, an employee or worker had to work a minimum of 33% of normal hours and the employer being solely responsible for payment of wages to 33%.
For the remaining usual hours which are not worked (i.e. up to two/three of the ‘unworked hours’), the employer and the government will each pay one third of the employee’s usual pay, with the government contribution capped at £697.92 per month. So the employer would still have to pay wages equating to around 55% of their normal hours, plus employment on costs.
Under the revised scheme, the minimum time an employee or worker has to work a minimum of 20% of normal hours and 5% of hours not worked. In practice this means the employer will pay 24% and the government funding up to 49% of the employee’s normal wages, and 27% would be ‘unpaid’.
This more than doubles the contribution to a cap of £1541.75 per month, so a significant improvement. The employer will still have to pay pension and NIC, so it is not quite that favourable as it first might appear, but it is certainly better. There are conditions – large employers (over 250 staff) have to show financial impact from COVID-19 – chiefly a turnover test, a condition that existed previously, and caps to the support provided.
BOSS is pleased to see this improvement in the JSS, knowing that government is listening to the concerns and pressures on our sector and others is welcome news. With demand remaining well below the seasonal expectation for many in our sector and likely to be so while COVID control measures are in place, it’s vital that government provide support to businesses to enable them to weather this crises and be as well placed as possible to develop when we do get through it. BOSS will continue to lobby vigorously for further support for our sector.
For reference, please find the government link here on the latest JSS information.
BOSS’ teams are currently working on new guidance in relation to this and will be in touch shortly. Please visit www.bossfederation.com/coronavirus for the latest documents.